Posts Tagged ‘w10’

Additional Windows 10 Configuration Tips

Wednesday, August 26th, 2015

I’ve recently blogged about my Windows 10 configuration. In this post I’ll list some additional things that I could disable/tweak/configure using a new application called W10Privacy.

If you haven’t read the first part, then I recommend you to do so first as it has some interesting tips in store for you :)

First, you need to download the application here. Once downloaded, you should uncompress it and run it with administrator privileges. To have access to the list of System applications, you can also download PSExec and place the executable in the folder where W10Privacy is located.

Here’s what I’ve configured using that tool (knowing that my configuration already covers many of the settings it provides):

  • Privacy
    • Turn off SmartScreen Filter to check web content (URLs) that Windows Store apps use
    • Disable sending of information on writing behavior
    • Disable location for this device
    • Disable asking for Feedback
    • Disable the AutoLogger
    • Block Microsoft server, to which telemetry data will be sent (in the hope that this setting has additional domain names to block)
  • Search
    • Do not search online and do not include web results
    • Disable the retrieve of Bing search suggestions and web results (applies only to the actual user)
  • Network
    • Do not connect to proposed public hotspots
    • Do not connect to wireless networks shared by my contacts
    • Do not share my networks with my Outlook.com contacts
    • Do not share my networks with my Skype contacts (w t f)
    • Do not share my networks with my Facebook contacts (w t f)
  •  Explorer
    • Remove search option on the taskbar (searching by Windows key + Q is still possible)
    • File Explorer opens at “This PC” instead of “Quick Access”
    • Show a desktop icon for “Computer”
    • Show extensions for known file types in File Explorer
    • Show hidden files, folders or drives in File Explorer
    • Show protected operating system files in File Explorer
    • Turn off Windows SmartScreen
    • Remove “- Shortcut” suffix from future shortcut file names (w00t!)
  • Services
    • Disable Windows Diagnostics Tracking Service – reboot required!
  • Edge
    • Send “Do Not Track” requests
    • Do not help me protect me from malicious sites and downloads with SmartScreen Filter
  • OneDrive
    • Do not start OneDrive automatically when I sign in to Windows
    • Remove OneDrive from the File Explorer sidebar in Windows 10
  • Tasks
    • Disable the task “Microsoft Compatibility Appraiser”
    • Disable the task “ProgramDataUpdater”
    • Disable the task “Proxy”
    • Disable the task “Consolidator”
    • Disable the task “KernerlCeip Task”
    • Disable the task “UsbCeip”
    • Disable the task “Microsoft-Windows-DiskDiagnosticDataCollector”
    • Disable the task “DmClient”
    • Disable the task “FamilySafetyMonitor”
    • Disable the task “FamilySafetyRefresh”
    • Disable the task “SmartScreenSpecific”
  • Tweaks
    • Disable automatic restart, the user is instead asked to plan a restart
    • Disable updates for other Microsoft products on Windows Update (e.g., office, etc)
    • Updates and apps will no longer be distributed to other clients (disables the lower switch) (i.e., my bandwidth is my own)
    • Distribute updates and apps only on the local network (disables upper switch)
  • Background-Apps
    • Disable background functionality for … (ALL THE DAMN APPS!)
  • User-Apps
    • Uninstall the following:
      • Money
      • News
      • Sports
      • Weather
      • First Steps
      • Get Office
      • OneNote
      • Skype download
      • Groove-Musik
      • Movies and TV shows
      • Maps
      • companion phone

As you can see, W10Privacy has quite a lot of nice features. I know that disabling the privacy related features will not protect my privacy much more than it currently is (i.e., it ain’t), but it can’t do harm either and at worst it’ll just save me some CPU cycles.. ;-)


Windows 10 configuration tips

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

Update 2015-08-26:

I’ve posted a new article with some additional configuration steps/tweaks.

Update 2015-08-05:

Removed some additional tracking services & bloatware using: 

I’ve also removed OneDrive from autorun, removed the app, etc. Thanks Microsoft but no, I’m not interested and if I ever am, I’ll let you know. It’s not because I’m using Windows that I want all the software you’ve ever produced. Propose me to opt in if you want, but don’t force additional products on me!.

Tip:

If you want to get a list of the other currently installed apps just use: Get-AppxPackage -User <username>. If one of them bothers you then you can invoke Remove-AppxPackage <package name>

In the previous post, I’ve mentioned that almost all of my applications and settings were kept during the upgrade from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10. Almost all, but not all.

And anyway, each time I switch to a new OS release, I can’t help but spend some time going through all the options and policy settings just to configure it the way I like.

With Windows 10, it’s the very first time that I’m done in less than two hours, which is nice :)

Now let me list all the things that I’ve done after upgrading, in no specific order:

  • Activate Windows (first things first right? :p)
  • Installed the latest NVidia drivers (these didn’t survive the upgrade)
  • Put the resolution back to 1920*1080
  • Configured the File Explorer to show “This PC” rather than “Quick Access”, because I don’t care about frequent folders & recent files. I know where I need to go and how my files are organized
  • Reinstalled Virtualbox as I’ve noticed that it crashed when started
  • fired up gpedit.msc (which you will only have with the Professional & above editions..)
    • disabled thumbs.db files generation: because I can’t stand trying to move/delete things to discover that the damn thumbnails file prevents me from doing what I want…
      • User > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer > Turn off the caching of thumbnails in hidden thumbs.db files
    • disabled things that send data to Microsoft: Sorry MSFT, but I never like having my machine send data around (just a general principle that I stick by)
      • Computer > Windows Components > Windows Error Reporting > Disable Windows Error Reporting
      • Computer > Windows Components > Windows Error Reporting > Do not send additional data
      • Computer > Windows Components > Data Collection and Preview Builds > Allow Telemetry
    • made sure that the shutdown button on the logon screen was disabled: If you have young children you’ll understand why
      • Computer > Windows Settings > Local Policies > Security Options > Shutdown: Allow system to be shut down without having to log on
    • enabled always sending Do Not Track (DNT) header: because if there are still non-evil people on the Web, I need them to know that I somehow value privacy
      • Computer > Windows Components > Internet Explorer > Internet Control Panel > Advanced Page > Always send Do Not Track header
    • disabled Windows SmartScreen: because I don’t need Microsoft to tell me what is safe and what isn’t
      • Computer > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer > Configure Windows SmartScreen
    • enabled confirmation for file deletion: because I can’t trust myself that much ;-)
      • Recycle Bin > Properties > Display delete confirmation dialog
    • disabled documents history: who cares about history (don’t repeat that to my son ^^)
      • User > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar
        • Clear history of recently opened documents on exit
        • Do not keep history of recently opened documents
    • disabled searching for files/documents/internet in start menu: because I care about apps when I use the start menu, nothing else (personal choice indeed)
      • User > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar
        • Do not search communications
        • Do not search for files
        • Do not search Internet
    • forced listing desktop apps first (rather than metro apps..)
      • User > Administrative Templates > Start Menu and Taskbar 
        • List desktop apps first in the Apps view
    • disabled MS Edge app usage tracking: I love MS Edge but I just don’t like tracking
      • User > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > Edge UI
        • Turn off tracking of app usage
    • customized the File Explorer
      • User > Administrative Templates > Windows Components > File Explorer
        • Remove the Search the Internet “Search again” link
        • Start File Explorer with ribbon minimized
        • Turn off display of recent search entries in the File Explorer search box
        • Turn off caching of thumbnail pictures
  • forced numlock at boot (logon screen also!): this setting was apparently lost during the upgrade
    • run “regedit”
    • go to \HKEY_USERS\.DEFAULT\Control Panel\Keyboard
    • change value “InitialKeyboardIndicators” from “2147483648” to “80000002”
    • restart and u will have NUM LOCK ON always on windows startup

After this I already felt a bit more at ease, although that was only the first part.

The next part was to go through all the Settings and trying out the new features..

  • created a new virtual desktop: Hey MSFT, great that you’ve finally added virtual desktops but why so late? :)
  • fixed the default apps: this is one of the things I disliked. MSFT, you’ve managed to keep so many things and just decided to replace my default apps by all of yours? That really sucks!
    • Switched default browser back to Google Chrome
    • Switched default music player back to Winamp (because it really… :p)
    • Switched default video player back to VLC
  • modified the folders that appear by default in the Start Menu
    • File Explorer
    • Settings
    • Downloads
    • Personal Folder
  • modified privacy settings
    • Settings > Privacy
      • General
        • Send Microsoft info about how I write…
          • OFF
      • Location
        • Disabled
      • Removed various rights from apps…
      • Feedback & diagnostics
        • Windows should ask for my feedback: Never
        • Send your device data to Microsoft: Basic
        • Background apps: Remove
  • removed default Windows 10 apps: MSFT I get why it is all there, but I just couldn’t care less
    • Finance
    • News
    • MSN Food & Drinks
    • Health & Fitness
    • Travel
    • Get Skype
    • Get Office
    • Get Bored
    • Get Whatever :o
  • Windows Store
    • signed in with my Windows Live account: ONLY for apps
  • Cortana & Search settings
    • disabled web search results

Done!

I’ll probably edit this post over time to reflect config changes, but for now I think it’s already in a pretty good shape :)

PS: For those wondering, no I’m not hardening my Windows box in any specific way, I just have a local firewall (Net Limiter) set to ask me to allow/Deny anytime there are inbound/outbound connections (when I don’t already have rules covering those), so as long as apps cannot bypass that Firewall, I know what tries to go in/out and I’m in control. That combined with the Antivirus is all I need. I wouldn’t configure a Windows box just like that at work, but at home that’s just more than enough :)


Upgrading from Windows 8 to Windows 10

Thursday, July 30th, 2015

TL;DR: Huge kudos to Microsoft for making the upgrade from W7 & 8 to Windows 10 a breeze!

This post is a summary of my experience upgrading from Windows 8.1 to Windows 10; I’m not going to talk about the new features as there are already a huge amount of articles about that.. :)

Yesterday, the binaries for Windows 10 were available on MSDN so I wanted to finally give W10 a try. I’ve never been keen of installing technical previews on my main machine and I just don’t have time to test that kind of things anymore.

So first things first, I’ve downloaded the ISO & claimed my key. Once downloaded I mounted the iso and let the magic happen.

One HUGE step forward with the Windows 10 installer is that it is now able to perform the upgrade while keeping most applications and settings.

In my case, although I have a “pretty complicated” configuration, I was back up and running directly after the upgrade which is just of awesome :)

Here’s what makes it surprising for me:

  • all of my applications are still there, intact (i.e., still configured just as I’ve left them)
  • my registry settings were kept (for the most part)
  • my services are still there after the upgrade (I’ve got a local MySQL instance, a Confluence wiki and a bunch of other stuff)
  • all my drivers are still there
  • my custom Firewall (Net Limiter 2) is still there after the upgrade (impressive given how deeply it must be integrated with the OS (filter drivers & al)
  • Daemon tools is still installed and my virtual devices are still there
  • (most of) my startup applications are still in the autorun list
  • my Windows defender settings & folder exclusions were still there
  • my custom power plan was still there & active
  • my favorites in File Explorer were still there (ok that’s no magic but hey ^^)
  • my desktop icons are still there
  • my regional settings & other are still there

I think that the difference between XP & 7 was MUCH more important and given how “close” W10 is to W8, I can’t say that any of the above is really surprising, but it’s still very nice.

Hopefully the next upgrade from W10 to W.Next will not even require a reboot anymore.. ;-)

In a follow up post I’ll describe the things that I’ve configured after the upgrade.

Huge kudos to Microsoft for making the upgrade from W7/8 to Windows 10 a breeze!